We are used to hearing words and phrases like beta hCG and two week wait, but do we really know what they mean?
Commonly associated with the two week wait, the beta hCG is the period of time it takes from when a patient undergoes fertility treatment (either artificial insemination, embryo transfer or in vitro fertilisation) until the day the treatment results are obtained; where the result can be either positive or negative. This wait, which usually lasts from 9 to 14 days, depending on when the embryo transfer was done, is a time of hope but also stress, which can cause great anxiety in patients.
How do we know if the beta hCG is positive or negative?
It is often thought that a pregnancy test is enough, but this is not the case. A pregnancy test will not always detect a positive pregnancy, and could fail by registering a false positive. Therefore it is crucial to have a pregnancy confirmed by a blood test, and to have checks done by a gynaecologist.
We will know if the beta is positive or negative by analysing the amount of hCG present in the blood measured by the beta-hCG hormone, after which it’s named. The hCG hormone, scientifically known as human chorionic gonadotropin, is produced by the embryo when it is in the state of trophoblast (group of cells present in early pregnancy), which then evolves to the placenta. The hCG is a very important and necessary hormone for the strength and progress of the pregnancy.
6 days after the fertilisation of the egg, the hCG hormone can be detected, as it will have reached the mother’s blood, and its levels can be measured through a blood test. The longer we wait, the higher the hCG value will be, since it increases until it reaches its peak during the second month of pregnancy. If the result of the blood tests shows that the beta hCG is less than 5 IU/l, it means that there’s no sign of a pregnancy.
If after 30 days of pregnancy the beta value has not sufficiently increased, then it may indicate something is not right. It could be, for instance, an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilised egg implants itself outside the uterus. Situations like this occur in one out of every 50 pregnancies.
On the following table are the normal guidelines for hCG levels during the course of pregnancy:
Just two weeks? It feels like years!
The two week wait can feel like forever, so if you are in this situation it’s good to try and face it with optimism, so that you can deal with the wait in a more positive way and help yourself to relax when result time comes.
Try to stay in your day-to-day routine, working, studying and planning the weekend, and forget about the actual dates. It is important for you to talk to your partner or loved ones as this way, you’ll feel prepared for result day.
We would like to encourage all of you who are undergoing this process and we wish you the best outcome!